Latest NSA revelations stoke anger
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers and privacy advocates called on Friday for reforms and greater transparency in operations of the National Security Agency in response to reports that the highly secretive agency repeatedly violated privacy rules over the years.
The reaction came once The Washington Post reported the violations in Friday's editions, citing an internal audit and other top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Most of the thousands of infractions each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008 involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order.
The documents, provided this summer to The Post by Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia this month, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “Press reports that the National Security Agency broke privacy rules thousands of times per year and reportedly sought to shield required disclosure of privacy violations are extremely disturbing.”
She said Congress should take steps to ensure violations are not repeated.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who has complained that officials have not been truthful in discussing the scope and effectiveness of the NSA's surveillance programs, said, “I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA.” He said he will hold another hearing on the issue.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said in a tweet that the news of NSA violations is “outrageous” and provides “one more example of needed oversight/reform.”
“The revelations make clear that our system of checks and balances has failed,” said Alexander Abdo, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The New York-based Brennan Center for Justice said the leaked documents “reveal that the NSA's violations range from serious breaches of the law to careless errors.” It noted that the internal audit exposed more than 2,700 violations from 2011 to 2012, “many of which resulted in illegal surveillance of Americans.”